Tuesday, May 27, 2014

TV3: too clever for its own good

You sometimes have to  wonder about TV3's news judgment.

There's  a place for aggressive reporting that pushes the boundaries, and Patrick Gower has become the pacesetter in the parliamentary press gallery - at least in the electronic media. But some of the channel's decisions lately have been downright silly.

It greatly overplayed its exclusive on Kim Dotcom's ownership of a signed copy of Mein Kampf. (Memo to TV3: "exclusive" doesn't necessarily mean it should lead the bulletin.) More recently, it excitedly led with a non-story about Justice Minister Judith Collins firing a pistol in circumstances which, under what could only be called a nitpicking interpretation of the gun laws, might have been technically illegal (but even if it was, didn't amount to a hill of beans). TV3 should note that for all the hype, neither of these stories led anywhere. They were largely ignored by other media, and rightly so.

Now the channel has suffered the unusual humiliation of being rebuked from the bench of the High Court and banned from further camera coverage of the John Banks trial - this, for showing footage last week of Banks absent-mindedly doing something nauseating with ear-wax while listening to the evidence against him.

What was the purpose of this shot? It was utterly gratuitous. It shed no light on the case, it was unnecessarily humiliating to Banks and it was repulsive to look at. Small wonder that Justice Edwin Wylie gave TV3 a whack around the ears.

There's not necessarily any disgrace in a media organisation upsetting the judiciary. In some circumstances it can be a badge of honour. But in this instance, the judge's indignation was entirely justified.

It was a case of TV3 once again getting a bit too clever for its own good. To the channel's credit, TV3 lawyer Clare Bradley, who was evidently party to the decision to screen the shot, now admits it was a bad judgment call.

Amen to that. Perhaps the channel will now dial back its propensity for shock and overkill.

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